Book Review: Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni (ISBN: 9780399179754 (ISBN10: 0399179755))
Back in 2015, I came across an article that amused me so much that I still remember it. The news article told of three young Chechen women who scammed Islamic State (IS) recruiters out of thousands of dollars. Contacted by a recruiter via social media, the mastermind behind the operation realized that she could earn quite a bit of money by pretending to want to join the IS in Syria.
It was one of those feel-good stories that the world desperately needed at the time. The aftermath of the Arab spring had turned what seemed like a hopeful new beginning into an all-too-familiar nightmare. While most of the countries were able to avoid a nightmarish aftermath, Syria was not that fortunate. As of this writing, the war in Syria is still going on.
In Guest House for Young Widows, Azadeh Moaveni narrates the circumstances of 13 women and how they came to be members of the IS. The women who left their homes and travelled to Syria thought that they were going to a land of promise. A part of the world that allowed them to live with dignity and practise their religion in a way that appealed to them. For some of the women, it was an act of rebellion to embrace this extremist worldview. For others, it was a matter of belonging and finding a safe haven for themselves. There were still some for whom Assad was the real enemy, and as they say the enemy of my enemy….
Presently, many governments around the world are refusing to repatriate some of these women. The fear that perhaps they are far too indoctrinated to be able to reintegrate into the respective societies. One such case is Shamima Begum, who lost her British citizenship and may face the death penalty. These women have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of ideology and identity politics.
 Scammed! Chechen women ‘cheat ISIS recruiters out of money’ | Al Arabiya English (Accessed: 8. February, 2023)
 ‘Stateless’ Shamima Begum would face death in Bangladesh, court hears | Shamima Begum | The Guardian (Accessed: 10. February, 2023)